The Big Picture
- Michael Caine, at 90 years old, considers himself retired after his final role in The Great Escaper, a film he thought he would never make.
- Caine enjoyed playing the character of Bernie in the film and appreciated being able to participate despite his physical limitations.
- The director commends Caine for portraying a vulnerable character and expresses admiration for his ability to return to acting after a long break.
Michael Caine, the icon of British cinema, has confirmed that he now views himself as retired after filming what he feels will be his final role, in The Great Escaper. Caine had caused in stir after filming Lina Roessler‘s Best Sellers in 2021 when he said the movie might be his last. Representatives for the esteemed two-time Oscar winner promptly moved to clarify that Caine’s proclamation was premature, revealing that he was already contemplating involvement in two upcoming film projects at that time. Fast forward two years, and it appears that Caine has largely embraced retirement.
“I am bloody 90 now, and I can’t walk properly and all that,” he told The Telegraph in a new profile. “I sort of am retired now.” Should Caine indeed have retired, his final outing on the big screen would be The Great Escaper, featuring co-star Glenda Jackson. This movie draws its inspiration from the remarkable true story of Bernard “Bernie” Jordan, a Royal Navy veteran who, at the age of 89, vanished from his retirement facility with the intent of journeying to France, where he aimed to partake in the 70th anniversary commemoration of D-Day. Caine expressed his joy at being able to take part in the film, having thought his days of movie-making were at an end.
“I was so happy to do it. I just loved the character of Bernie. I thought he was incredible, and it’s so beautifully written. With Covid and all that, I hadn’t done a picture for three years, and I thought I was finished. And I suddenly did it — and had such a wonderful time. They gave me a very good walking stick, and I was able to do scenes that needed that. I’d just do them once, and then fall over. But just one take, and that’s it. Forget it.”
The film’s director, Oliver Parker, explained the care that was taken with Caine given his age and difficulties, as well as the long gap between filming his most recent movie to returning to work on the project.
“We were careful to ensure that Michael wasn’t working too hard,” said Parker, “and having to negotiate him moving around at the pace he did. But for him to have returned to acting after not having made a film in a while, and in the way he did, was quite a thing. I’ve rarely seen him playing a character that has such frailty. He’s always been Michael Caine — carefree, confident and cool. Here he’s playing a man who is struggling to keep control. And for the audience to invest in that he really has to share his vulnerabilities, and I really was thrilled at Michael’s ability to do that.”
The Best Possible Life
Caine was in a positive and reflective mood when looking back across not just his career, but his life. Admitting he missed being able to do so many things that had brought him happiness in his earlier days, he had found joy in the world through his family, in particular his grandchildren.
“The worst thing about it is that so much disappears from your life. You can’t run around, you can’t play football, and you gradually realize you’re approaching death. [Death] could be just around the corner at 90,” he said.
“But I’m quite happy. I’m sitting here writing, doing my thing. I like it. I have two children, three grandchildren and a wife… Everyone’s going to join me eventually. No one’s going to say, ‘I’m so sorry you’re going to die — I wish you were like me and not going to die.’ Everybody’s going to die. At least I’ve lived to fucking 90; I didn’t die at 9, or 19 or 29. I’m 90, and I’ve had the best possible life I could have thought of.”
The Great Escaper opens in UK cinemas on October 6.